Enjoying the heat? Good practice for the future

Posted July 19th, 2010 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on Enjoying the heat? Good practice for the future

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

NOAA has reported that, globally, the first 6 months of this year were the hottest Jan.-June period ever recorded. Arizonans are dealing with a deadly combination of high temps and high humidity (triple digit temps, dew points around 60), the mid-Atlantic is sweltering, many areas are dry as a bone, while in other places, like Kentucky over this past weekend, torrential downpours and huge storms are wreaking havoc. In the Milwaukee suburb in which I grew up, one night last week saw 4 1/2 inches of rain fall in barely an hour. My brother said he had never seen water like that fall from the sky.

Temp anomalies June 2010 - NOAA

It’s a global phenomenon. Moscow is melting and Northern Europe is getting Mediterranean-type summer weather. Earlier this summer, hundreds of people perished in India during a record heat wave that sent temps as high as 122F.

In many parts of the world, crops are withering, and rain patterns have shifted.

In this country the heat wave is big news, but you would have a hard time finding any info about the larger context for this year’s tumultuous weather.

What does the record warmth have to do with a nearly 3 sq.mile piece of Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae glacier breaking off into the sea this past month?

Projected 100 degree days in US this century - US Global Change Research Program

Oh, right, global warming. Oh that again! that supposedly controversial thing that is talked about as some dire planetary future, something we can think about another day when it is more convenient and by then we’ll have the technology to save us – except here it is now, unfolding all around us as we attempt to go on about our business-as-usual, yet knowing inside, if we listen to our anxieties, that, like any biological being, we sense, we know, that our habitat is changing – fast.

And we do not have what we need to save ourselves, especially the will and commitment to adapt quickly to this changing environment in which we are embedded – natural beings as dependent on certain patterns of biosphere and atmosphere as any other creatures. We have been brilliant in using our brains to adapt to things like heat and cold, to develop tools to be more productive, etc.  We have been less-than-brilliant, even woefully unwise and ignorant, in realizing the limits of technological adaptation when it confronts those far larger forces at work in our world – like how too much heat trapped in the atmosphere will cause the planet to cook beyond anything we can control.

So here’s what’s coming for the U.S. this week and into the next – get ready, southeast and mid-Atlantic, things are about to get worse. From Accuweather.

And this, from Earthweek, A Diary of the Planet:

The sweltering heat waves that have baked several parts of the Northern Hemisphere over the past two weeks will become commonplace within the lifetimes of most of the world’s current inhabitants, according to a new report.

Not the future I had hoped for my old age.

See, some folks tell me I’m too dark, but I’m just reporting the news. I welcome anyone who can tell me how we can stop these now well-developed drivers in time to keep things from getting worse. Tell me how you shift this culture to a downscale, unselfish, generous body politic prepared to take power out of the hands of corporations and to change the politics of the nation to focus on the well-being of the planetary systems in which we live and move and have our being.

Noah Diffenbaugh says he and his team also found that the longest heat waves on record that occurred between 1951 and 1999 will likely become five times as frequent between 2020 and 2029.

Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers caution that the 2030s are likely to become even hotter.

Okay? That’s not the future to be prevented, that’s the future to which we must adapt. And we must act urgently to do the other half of the equation, mitigation.  We must act now and urgently to keep this trend from continuing beyond the 2030s.

To do this with a modicum of human dignity and compassion, traits that ought to mark the uniqueness of the evolution of the human, means shifting our national political and cultural priorities. We cannot have everything we want according to the desires created for us by Corporate America.  We have to change what we want, what we cherish.

What kind of life do we want for our children? - photo by Mom

I look at my one-year-old Godchild and what I want for her is not the right to own a handgun or to have an iPad or at least 4 or 5 hi-tech gadgets for constant online connection, if these things will bring about the destruction of her world, or at the very least, a world of more hurt and suffering. What I want for her is health and a life in which she can express her creativity in heart and thought and spirit. I want for her joy and happiness in being alive. I want for her love and connection with other beings and real community and friendship.  I want for her an ‘outside’ that is not a threat to be feared, but rich in beauty and abundance, clean air to breathe, non-toxic food to eat, uncontaminated water to drink – none of these things controlled by corporations with a profit to make.

And that is what is in jeopardy with the world we have made.

We have written before that the natural El Nino effect makes for warm summers. We have also shared the science that these events, like rainstorms, blizzards (ask D.C. about that – 3 last winter and now record heat), drought, and hurricanes, will become more severe as the driver of a warmer atmosphere makes our weather crazier.

We have to dream a future right now. We have to look our kids in the eye and see the world we want for them. And then we have to go out and create that world, and we have to begin – right now.


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